Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Bill to make child abusers serve full terms approved

House names legislation 'Josh Osborne Law'
By COLBY SLEDGE • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 7, 2008

Convicted child abusers could face longer stays in jail, thanks to a state bill inspired by a Wilson County teenager with mental retardation who was found chained to a bed.
The bill, which passed unanimously in the House on Tuesday and the Senate last week, would require a person convicted of child abuse or aggravated child abuse to serve 100 percent of the imposed sentence.

The bill was introduced in honor of Josh Osborne, whom authorities found in 2004 chained to his stepmother's bed at their Lebanon home. Osborne, then 15, weighed between 50 and 60 pounds.

The bill explicitly includes the effects of dehydration and starvation as factors to be used in determining the extent of the child abuse.

"We look at children still as property, not as people with rights," said House bill sponsor Rep. Sherry Jones, D-Nashville.

Ironically, the bill was passed two weeks after Osborne's stepmother, Christine Osborne, received a reduced sentence from the Court of Criminal Appeals. Her six-year sentence was reduced to three and a half.

Christine Osborne's husband, James Osborne, was sentenced to six years.

Josh Osborne, who is now 18 and lives with an aunt, appeared with Jones before the House on Tuesday. The House erupted in applause after the 97-0 vote was announced.

Thanks to a House amendment, the bill will be known as the "Josh Osborne Law." The name change means the bill will return to the Senate, which is expected to send the bill to Gov. Phil


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